Brown Fat Equals Good Fat

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Brown Fat

Fat, usually associated with white or yellow globules that stick to your body in unwanted areas, may not be as bad as previously thought. Some fat, primarily brown fat, or baby fat, may actually help in the battle of obesity. Unlike its white counterpart that stores energy, brown fat burns calories to generate body heat.

Until recently, brown fat was thought to exist only in infants. But researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts, found that not only do adults have brown fat, but those who are thinner have more than those who are not.

Who has Brown Fat?

Researchers believe that most adults have brown fat located primarily in the neck, above the collarbone and in the upper chest area. But the amount each person has depends on specific factors. Mainly, younger adults have more than older, thinner adults with normal blood glucose levels have more than those who are obese, women are more likely to have it than men, and patients who use heart drugs known as beta blockers have less brown fat deposits.

Help in the Fight Against Obesity and Diabetes
All three studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 8, 2009, examined tissue sample from over 2000 patients. Scientists used a high-tech imaging positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT) scan to determine how many calories were used and how much fat was burned.

The results suggest that brown fat plays an important role in regulating blood glucose levels and burning excess calories. It also shows that brown fat is more active in colder weather.
According to the article by Linda A. Johnson, “Watching Your Waistline? Fat May Be Your Friend,” published by the Associated Press on April 9, 2009 scientists are excited about the potential this research has for the ability to control obesity and diabetes treatment as well.

In the CNN article, “Brown Fat Burns Calories—May Lead to New Obesity Treatments, by Anne Harding on April 10, 2009, Dr. Aaron Cypress of the Joslin Diabetes Center suggests that these preliminary results may lead to the creation of drugs that help increase brown fat activity and burn extra calories. As of right now, the drugs on the market to fend obesity primarily try to decrease calorie intake.

Healthy Diet and Exercise Still Important

But Cypress also warns that brown fat alone will not contribute to dramatic weight loss. Even those who had high levels of brown fat only burned an additional 500 calories. Healthy eating habits as well as exercise is still the best way to lose weight.

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